Date of Award

Spring 3-2018

Embargo Period


Degree Type

Dissertation (CMU Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering and Public Policy


Jay Whitacre


As the use of renewable energy technologies and electric vehicles continues to expand in our electricity generation and transportation sectors, demand for energy storage technologies will only grow. Meeting this increased demand will require both technology innovations, but also new ways of thinking about the costs of implementing these technologies. This dissertation examines electrochemical energy storage technologies at multiple phases of the product cycle to assess how to meet some of the challenges associated with widespread adoption of electrochemical energy storage. Using a process-based cost model to identify the factors that contribute most to battery manufacturing cost, I find that economies of scale cost reductions have largely already been achieved. However, changes in cell design parameters can help to lower the per kWh cost of lithium-ion cells. Looking at a use case for energy storage in a hybrid microgrid, I find that both battery chemistry characteristics and technology costs impact the overall performance of hybrid microgrids and the cost of delivering electricity. As more batteries are produced to meet growing demand, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with battery manufacturing and waste disposal will become increasingly important. Using an attributional life cycle analysis, I compare the emissions associated with two different recycling processes: pyrometallurgical recycling and direct cathode recycling. While pyrometallurgical recycling does not offer emissions reductions, direct cathode recycling does have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even if the cathode recovery process has relatively low yield rates. Using these recovered cathode materials is contingent on a market that will accept these recycled materials. A survey of current electric vehicle owners shows that consumer preferences about battery materials differ depending on whether consumers purchased a plug-in hybrid or an all electric vehicle. Overall, plug-in hybrid vehicle owners seem to have a slightly negative perception of recycled battery materials. For electric vehicle owners that have an all-electric vehicle, there are more diverse preferences, with groups that have positive, negative, and indifferent preferences about the type of battery material used in their vehicle. The heterogeneous preferences of different electric vehicle owners could enable different trends in material recovery and reuse as the number of electric vehicles on the road, and the battery energy storage used for transportation, increase.

Available for download on Friday, March 27, 2020